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Meet Sydney Ilg of 11th Avenue Hostel in Downtown Denver, The Golden Triangle Neighborhood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sydney Ilg.

Sydney, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My family purchased the building that is now 11th Avenue Hostel in 1988. It was in pretty rough shape then, and after many years, converted part of the building into a hostel in 2007. It operated that way until 2017 when I was asked to come on board and assist with a re-brand and major historic restoration of the building, among other things.

I was fresh out of college, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but knew it revolved around marketing and PR. I accepted the role and it’s been a crazy and challenging ride. There’s no better school than the school or hard knocks, and by god we are learning! We re-branded to 11th Avenue Hostel in 2018 and began a historic restoration of our 116-year-old building in Summer of 2019. I never imagined myself to work in the family business, but here I am, and loving almost every second of it!

Has it been a smooth road?
Absolutely not! There’s a reason many people don’t work with their families. However, getting to work with my family on a daily basis adds this incredibly valuable and beautiful element of trust and good will that I know I would never experience working for another company.

The biggest challenge thus far has been the analysis game played when we decided to take on this restoration project. To put it bluntly it’s very expensive to restore a 100+-year-old building. I understand why people don’t often restore historic structures. And, when that historic structure is privately owned and operated, it can add a lot of stress to the family as a whole. Sometimes we overthink everything and disagree, and sometimes we don’t, but at the end of the day we are learning to swallow pride, come to the table, and remember what this is all about: building a business for the future. That takes a lot of hard work; a lot of rolling with the punches.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the 11th Avenue Hostel story. Tell us more about the business.
11th Avenue Hostel is Denver’s Traveler’s Hostel. The largest hostel in the state, we provide simple shared and private accommodations for world travelers, and we love doing it! We are the experts on local travel and making that local experience open and available to all. Hostels are known for being places of unique community, connection, and yes, affordability. Our hostel is no exception. We are so proud to be family owned and operated and get to share our favorite city with people from all over the world. As the hostel industry grows in the United States, we are very excited to serve as leaders and liaisons in this industry to ensure hostels can work together and travelers can experience the states in a unique and exciting way.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The hostel industry in the United States is going to continue growing and we are happy we can be part of that first and foundational group. Right now, most hostels in the states and abroad are independently owned and operated. With a few larger hostel brands entering the U.S. market and AirBnb breaking down stigmas about staying with “strangers,” it gives even more legitimacy to these independent hostels and gives us some really cool opportunities to educate consumers on the value and longevity of hostels in the travel economy. You could spend more on your vacation, you could spend more than half your budget on a hotel room, but you don’t have to. You shouldn’t have to. Enter: hostels.

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Image Credit:
All photos property of 11th Avenue Hostel. Cannot be reused or reproduced without permission.

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